On November 12, 2019, the Federal Court of Canada (Court) released its decision in Voltage Pictures, LLC v Salna, 2019 FC 1412, dismissing the plaintiff’s motion for certification of a reverse class proceeding.

The plaintiffs, a group of movie production companies, sought to sue a proposed defendant class of Canadians for copyright infringement under sections 27(1), 27(2), and 27(2.3) the Copyright Act, RSC, 1985, c C-42, as previously reported by the E-TIPS® Newsletter here. The defendant class, intended to target internet subscribers at large, was both unlimited in number and unidentifiable.

Section 334.16 of the Federal Courts Rules, SOR/98-106, outlines certain criteria that must be met in order to merit the certification of a reverse class proceeding. The Court determined that Voltage did not meet any of these requirements. According to the Court:

  • the pleadings did not disclose a reasonable cause of action;
  • the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence about the existence of a class of two or more persons; and
  • the proposed representative respondents lacked the necessary incentive to defend the application.

Specifically, Voltage provided evidence of only one IP address which may have been used by multiple third parties.  As such, the Court found the connection between the IP address and the defendant’s Internet activities as tenuous and was unable to find sufficient grounds to base a claim for copyright infringement. Furthermore, the Court determined that a class proceeding was not the preferable procedure for the efficient resolution of this case since it would require individual fact-finding, which would unfairly burden Internet Service Providers and would target thousands of Canadians.

Summary By: Alessia Monastero


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